In this case the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s “county-unit” system for electing statewide officers. Under the unit system, out of a total of 410 County unit votes, the eight most populous counties had six unit votes each, thirty counties had four votes each, and 121 counties had two votes each. This gave the smallest counties a majority with 242 votes, though they only made up one-third of the State’s population.
The Court held that the system violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Douglas, writing for an 8-1 majority, asserted that, “The conception of political equality from the Declaration of Independence, to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, to the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Nineteenth Amendments can mean only one thing – one person, one vote.”
Impact on Redistricting
Though it was unclear at the time how exacting the principle would be enforced, Gray v. Sanders set down the “one person, one vote” standard that still guides the redistricting process today. It also set the stage for Reynolds v. Simms and the Reapportionment Cases.